I decided the other day, once they were racing, to get serious about this America's Cup stuff and not bother you with any more of these letters. I would wax poetic and sing rhapsodies to the glorious 12-meters and the 11 strong men on board. I would become a true waterman, I would move in tune with the rhythms of the tides. I would, cross my heart, stop laughing like an idiot.
The next sound you hear, Boss, will be a waterman idiot laughing across the Atlantic. What's a guy to do?
They called off the seventh race of the America's Cup today even though it was gorgeous on the ocean, sunny with a nice little breeze.
Those little breezes were shifty, they said, and so they couldn't race because it would be more a contest of luck than skill. This is the only sports event I've ever been to, Boss, that was called off because the weather was too good. If Columbus stopped sailing every time the weather was good, he'd have turned around at the Azores and Woody Hayes would live in Ponce de Leon, Ohio.
That's the good news, Boss. No race.
The better news is that we have a frogman mystery.
We have an attempt at sabotage by garbage bag.
We have the Aussie leader saying this afternoon that he'll file an official protest of the seventh race, not to be run until Monday, because it's not fair that his boat ought to be forced to compete against three American boats.
We have the Aussie leader saying the Americans ought to paint their boat an appropriate color. "A good color might be pink," he said. He said this daintily, delicately, as if speaking of a gentlewoman's frilly lacy things. I'm not sure, Boss, but I think that was an insult to our red-blooded American boys.
Calling off today's race was all right with me, because the sixth race Thursday was a snoring bore. Australia II took the lead 15 minutes in and the last three hours were a formality with Liberty straggling home in embarrassing defeat. Damon Runyon said he liked watching America's Cup racing, but it was more exciting to watch grass grow. Days like Thursday, it's more exciting to study topographical maps of Pago Pago.
America's Cup racing can stir the soul, to wax poetic, when those tall masts teeter beautifully against the sky as 11 strong men move these pretty pieces of man's work across pounding seas.
But it's even better, Boss, when these tall masts stand still at night.
That's when the frogmen come out.
At 2 o'clock this morning, a security guard at Australia II's dock spotted air bubbles on the water. This is the story according to Alan Bond, the leader of the Aussie group. The security guard saw a man in frogman's gear and chased him, "but he was not apprehended," Bond said.
It is possible, Boss, that the Aussies have an active imagination capable of creating scandal where none exists. After all, who could blame them for causing the Americans a moment of grief? All summer the Americans tried to get the Aussies disqualified for having an illegal keel under Australia II, even though every international test showed the boat a true 12-meter. At one point, the Americans even tried to get a Holland tank-testing firm to admit it had designed the keel in violation of America's Cup rules.
It's not beyond imagining, then, that Bond volunteered to come to an unscheduled press conference today in order to create this frogman incident. In any case, he came up with enough spy-story details to put your yachting correspondent on the floor in seagoing giggles.
"Footprints," an Australian newspaperman said, whispering behind his hand.
Footprints on the dock.
"Footprints with stipple marks," the Aussie scribe said, "such as a frogman's flippers might leave."
Bond didn't say an American was inside the wet suit, but he suggested, in his sly way, that the villain surely was up to no good. "People who have nothing to hide walk in the front door," said the man who has hidden his boat's keel for months. "They don't come out of the water with a frog's head on."
The security guard, Bond said, chased the intruder away.
Someone asked the obvious rhetorical question, "Did the frogman run very fast in his flippers?" Bond only smiled in response.
The garbage bags were strung together in the water out front of Australia II earlier this week, Bond said. Had they not been discovered, and had these sinister garbage bags been filled with, say, peanut butter, the resulting mess would have slowed down Australia II.
As for Bond's protest that the conniving Americans were again changing their boat, he said it was a disgrace that Liberty would be allowed to add back the weight it took off for today's race. The rules say you can change the weight, by adding or subtracting lead in the boat, but only after a race--and there was no race today.
"We came here to race one boat, not three," he said. "Maybe they could at least paint it so we know what yacht we're racing. They could paint them green, blue and pink."
Otherwise, Bond said to the newspaper people here, "We could bring five different hulls and five different keels and five different masts and a thousand sails and you would not know what yacht you were reporting on."
Don't worry, Boss. I know what yacht I'm reporting on. It's the pink one flying garbage-bag sails with a helmsman wearing a frogman's suit.